MSA becomes victim of suspicious theft

Two laptops, containing meeting records, were stolen from the MSA office.

by Amber Kispert

Amid the controversy surrounding the Minnesota Student Association in recent weeks, theft has now been thrown into the mix.

Sometime between 8:15 and 8:25 the night of Nov. 26, two laptops were removed from the MSA office.

The laptops taken from the office included the official MSA laptop, and the personal laptop of Nathan Olson, student representative to the Board of Regents.

MSA President Emma Olson said the official laptop’s information primarily consists of meeting minutes, resolutions and bylaw changes.

“There are no suspects as far as I know,” she said. “The police are looking into it.”

Included on the laptops were the minutes from an emergency meeting that sparked controversy and subsequent discussions, Nathan Olson said.

The meeting, held Nov. 12, discussed the fairness of the attendance policy for MSA forum members. During this meeting, the executive board voted to suspend the bylaw because of its ambiguity.

Two executive board members felt these actions were an unconstitutional overturning of a forum decision.

“It was the only record we have of the fact that those meetings occurred and whatever was said at those meetings,” Nathan Olson said. “Now it’s my word and Julia Krieger’s word against everyone else’s.”

He said he hopes these events are only a coincidence and MSA members were not involved.

“For somebody to do that would be a very big risk,” he said. “It’s sort of suspicious, but it could be a coincidence.”

The information on the laptops did not include any private information that could be harmful to the organization if released, Emma Olson said.

“I can’t say that there was anything on there that is pertinent,” said MSA Chief of Staff Zong Vang.

Vang said she sees the laptop thefts as only a coincidence.

“It’s more like unfortunate events; they just seemed to happen around the same time,” she said.

Nathan Olson was alone in the MSA office the night the laptops were stolen and left for about five minutes to go to Starbucks, he said.

“I have to wonder if somebody was watching me all night,” he said.

When he returned, he noticed the inner office light was on and his laptop was removed from his backpack.

Whoever took the laptops also removed the MSA laptop from its carrying case, he said.

“It was such a strange theft because it was out of the MSA office,” he said of the room located on the second floor of Coffman Union. “Most people don’t just wander into that room.”

There were also smaller items of value in the MSA office that went untouched.

“It’s very strange, especially when there were other valuable items in there that they could have easily grabbed,” Nathan Olson said.

Emma Olson said the possible motive for taking the laptops is the opportunity to pawn them off.

Vang said she also sees the lucrative possibility of selling the laptops.

“You can sell them on the street, you can sell them out of trunks,” Vang said.

In order to help prevent future thefts, MSA is discussing the possibility of installing a card swipe outside of the office.

There was a lack of concern from the executive board regarding these stolen laptops, Nathan Olson said.

“What was surprising to me was that no one really seemed to be that concerned about the MSA one being taken,” he said. “It’s a very strange occurrence and a very strange reaction.”

MSA is also in talks about possibly keeping video and audio records of the meetings as backups.

“Maybe paper files wouldn’t have been a bad thing, but we really can’t get the best of both worlds,” Vang said.

Two MSA executive board members resign

In other MSA news, two executive board members will not be returning next semester.

Campus Relations Chairwoman Claire Antelman is resigning because of time conflicts next semester, Nathan Olson said.

Academics and Services Committee Chairwoman Stephanie Payne is also resigning, but for a different reason.

Payne went to Nathan Olson and Diversity Education Fund Grants Chairwoman Julia Krieger about undergoing conflict resolution relating to the alleged unconstitutional overturning of a bylaw last month, Nathan Olson said.

“She basically gave us an ultimatum,” he said.

Payne is resigning because of the conflict and stress that has arisen in the last few weeks, Nathan Olson said.

Elections for the two new executive board members will be held Tuesday night at the MSA Forum.